On How to Ditch A Friend (And How to Make Better Ones)
Disclaimer: This article is partially a rant, and partially great advice. It may leave you thinking you should find better friends. If you have friends that are too hard to handle, you can use your own judgment whether you should continue trying to be there for them or not. In my case, she was unbearable.
Why My "Friend" Was Terrible.
Three times' the charm, I said to myself.
This was right after I hopped onto the Greyhound bus leaving Orlando, alone, in the middle of a beautiful, hot summer Florida trip. This marvelous Disneyworld fairy-tale trip ended up in disaster for her, but it sparked joy for me. This was the third and final friendship breakup that I would ever have with Pinky*. It felt so liberating.
For a long time, I knew that Pinky was a difficult person to befriend. Everyone told me to avoid her, including my boyfriend, my best friend, my mom, my sister (should I go on?) and others who knew her. Not only was she always negative as she spoke about her life and gossiped nastily about others, she also complained about literally everything.
Literally everything you could think of.
Ask her about her past vacation to San Francisco? She would shrug and say it was "OK" with a frown. She would then proceed to say that people in that popular tourist spot was racist towards her. Not a mention about how beautiful the Golden Gate bridge looked or whether the sightseeing was enjoyable. Just pure complaint.
And let's say your friend Dixon* went to the hospital for mental illness. She would call you saying how horrible Dixon is becoming and how she doesn't want to be friends with Dixon anymore, because Dixon isn't paying enough attention to her like before. Cut-throat gossiping Pinky, that's what she's known to be. No compassion at all!
If not being appreciative of expensive vacations or gossiping about others wasn't bad enough, Pinky was also the kind of person who would never appreciate your help.
Let's say you offer to tutor Pinky as she struggles through a university Geography class (I did tutor her, by the way). I gave her a huge discount, $15 an hour. This seemed to be a fair price to charge a "friend", even though I traveled one hour across town in order to tutor her every week near her home.
Guess what she would say? She would say later on, that looking back, I was rude to charge her money. Hey! She passed her Geography exams though! And for the record, I normally charge $20 an hour for all my other students.
Still think that Pinky isn't bad enough of a friend? You must be wondering what she did to me this time to deserve me deserting her, in the middle of our friendship-of-a-lifetime Disneyworld trip. I spent my precious, hard-earned money on an additional Greyhound bus ticket to ditch her for good reason.
Getting Triggered Over and Over Again.
This was my rule of thumb for life: If someone crosses you once, forgive them. If they cross you again, doing the same thing, you block them. But if after a while, you see that maybe they can change for the better, give them a third chance and see if they can fly with it. If they cross you the third time, doing the same thing with no remorse, then drop them. Ditch them. Leave them forever. No more chances after that.
Life is too beautiful to be wasted on people who waste your time. People who don't appreciate your help, and don't even try to appreciate life's beauty, are just leeches that will suck up your emotional energy.
This type of so-called "friend" will leave you drained, scarred, and possibly-- a better person. That is, if you allow the situation to change you positively. Then you can be at the very least, better than they are.
Pinky and I had already broken up two times. The first breakup was after she repeatedly degraded me by not appreciating our friendship enough, giving me snide comments.
The second breakup was after she tried to diagnose me, saying maybe I had "Attention-seeking personality disorder". She apparently found that term on Wikipedia. Right, after she posted forty selfies of herself camwhore-ing her way through town!
By "breakup", I meant that she hurt me so badly that I stopped talking to her, and I had blocked her off all my social media networks. Another dear friend of mine, Yolanda*, did the same thing. Blocked her off.
But unlike Yolanda (who was smarter than I was), I forgave Pinky and eventually added her back on Facebook. I confronted Pinky and asked her to apologize in person. Then after her forced apology, I restarted the friendship.
The second time we tried to be friends again, it was worse. I mean who in the world diagnoses their friend as having "Attention Seeking Personality Disorder"? She's not even a doctor. So I blocked her off again. But then...
Some "Friends" Don't Deserve You.
One night a few months ago, I was sad and thought about all the people in my life. I remembered in high school, Pinky was so sweet and had an innocent heart. I remembered that she was bullied in school and had a troubled childhood in respect to her parents. I thought, maybe she is just bitter and hurt. Maybe she is lashing out because no one tries to understand her.
I thought about it and messaged her on Facebook. She was awake, as usual, browsing online. I told her I was sorry for misunderstanding her and that now I saw where she was coming from.
I told her that I wanted to start fresh again and have compassion on her. I thought she just needed more encouragement and positive friends to help her to change. She gladly accepted me back into her life that day.
Being compassionate isn't a bad thing, but when you have an un-appreciative friend who won't even learn things the hard way, you don't have a friend. You have got a problem.
Even if they were bullied, and even if their parents hurt them badly, that doesn't give them a right to hurt others too. You can always learn from other people's mistakes, it just depends on the perspective you choose to take on.
Pinky definitely looked at things the wrong way, and all the time!
Negative People Suck Up Your Energy.
The Nightmare After DisneyWorld.
During Disneyworld this time around, everything was looking great! Sure, I was on edge because of the crowds and hoping that we could get to as many amusement rides as possible, but even Pinky seemed to be having fun with all the rides we ended up going on.
We were pretty overheated all day in the sun, but other than that, I was under the impression that Pinky and I had patched things up for good and that we were having a blast in Florida! I was so wrong.
In the late evening, after a full day at Disneyworld, we were walking along the City Walk side of Universal Studios. We saw a chocolate milkshake place and decided to head inside.
But while we were lining up for milkshakes, she suddenly said to me, "Skylar, there is something I need to tell you. I have been feeling bothered about this all day. I will tell you outside later when there are less people."
"Sure, but, like what's wrong?" I said, worried. "Is it because you owe me money from Uber trips? Because I do have a right to ask for it back." (She used to owe me money way back in the day, and she would pay me only after I constantly nagged her.)
"No, it's not that," Pinky replied.
Nervously, I asked again, "Uh, is it because I told you that my boyfriend thinks you have a crush on him?"
"No. I'll tell you later."
"Later" was 20 long minutes of lining up in that milkshake factory. I was trying not to agonize about what she was bothered about. In any case, we were having fun today right?
I had gone to each and every Disney store that she wanted to shop at (and oh boy were there a lot of stores!). I had waited patiently beside her, as she browsed through the shopping areas, even though I myself didn't want to buy anything.
Hmm, what else? I went to every single ride she wanted to go on. I mean, I never even suggested a single ride, I just let her choose. Selfish of her and unselfish of me? Maybe. (I was just too damn submissive.) That couldn't be the problem now, could it?
We finally got our milkshakes and we sat down on a wooden bench outside the chocolate factory. Pinky didn't even take a breath before she said, "Skylar, all day you were hurrying me. I felt that you were very impatient and looking angry at me all the time. Can you stop making comments that make me feel like an idiot?"
I wasn't angry before, but I was angry now.
"So I was hurrying you? How?"
"Like in the Universal Studios store just now, you were hurrying me."
My blood was boiling. I replied, in a tense voice, "All I did was point out the area where the Harry Potter shirts were. You were looking to buy the Harry Potter shirt. I mean, I know I usually walk faster than you do, but I tried to walk slowly today. Want me to walk slower? As slow as possible?"
"Well, I didn't really mean hurrying just you know--"
"But you just told me that I was hurrying you." I was furious now.
Pinky seemed very determined to piss me off. She continued, saying, "Um, anyways, today you didn't give me eye contact when I was talking, I thought you weren't listening to me all day."
I blew up. "Eye contact?! You know I can't give you eye contact 24/7! I had to look where I was going, because there were huge crowds. I was listening to you. I was nodding and saying yes. I even leaned in closer when I couldn't hear you!"
"OK because my supervisor always makes me feel like an idiot and I felt the same way with you. You made me feel like a horrible person, like I didn't know what I was doing."
You know what, guys, I will spare you the details of this useless conversation. In the end, I tried to be humble and said that her perception was not the truth and that I am not like that guy at her nursing job that degrades her. (You must be thinking, "How did she become a nurse?")
I told her I appreciated her comments (not really) and that we can try to start fresh again, because maybe my personality is more blunt than others. But I would give her the opportunity to question me if she thought I looked angry to her (which was not the case all day, but is now). That's because she assumed I was angry while I was not. Geez.
Fighting With A Friend Is Never Easy.
Friend Fights Can Really Go Downhill.
Pinky did sound slightly nice at one point. She said that if I was mad at her, I could tell her instead of holding it inside, and to tell her exactly why I was mad. Point taken. So I told her I was angry now when she accused me of being impatient with her. She seemed to understand (key word: seemed).
I also apologized for my "resting bitch face". That was the only reasoning I could find to explain her perception of me looking angry all day. I mean, I wished I had a rearview mirror attached to my forehead so I could check whether I am constantly smiling all day or not! Pinky didn't apologize for accusing me though.
You see, I used to think getting triggered was something either to be avoided or something that was always negative when it happened. Thing is, you have to face at least some triggers in life, whether you like it or not, and you can always learn to avoid the triggers next time or adjust your behavior after you encounter the trigger.
I wiggled my milkshake straw nervously inside in my cup as I told her we should try to understand each other more. I sucked up the remaining milkshake whip cream (while I sucked up my pride) and tried to toss my anger out with the cup. Woop-de-doo.
Needless to say, although I had tried my best to suppress my anger, I did not deal well with Pinky triggering me. The negative aftereffects of her words were enormous. I was being blamed and framed. Care for me to explain more?
After calling an Uber, we got a ride back to the AirBnb and said we would call it a night. She asked to shower first. Just like she did the night before.
Earlier that morning, I had told Pinky very kindly not to leave her pee on the AirBnb toilet seat. This the morning of the Disneyworld day trip, the morning of the milkshake fight day. She told me softly at that time that she would be careful. (She said it while staring intently into her computer screen by the way. No eye contact with me either.)
Not sure if she was listening to me that time, because that night after our fight at the milkshake factory, she went to the AirBnb bathroom and left her pee dripped on the toilet again.
After sitting accidentally on a pee-stained toilet seat at 1am, I not only had Pinky's pee touching my butt, but I also felt Pinky's habits were touching a nerve. I rushed back into our AirBnb bedroom and asked Pinky, "Did you really mean it when you said I could tell you if I am mad about something?"
"You sure? If I told you that you were being rude, you wouldn't get triggered?" (To be honest, I should have been more worried about myself getting re-triggered.)
"No, it's fine. I prefer it that way."
Really, Pinky? You're bringing it on!
I explained to her in a super-agitated voice that I saw her urine on the toilet seat again, and in fact, I sat on it too. Instead of apologizing (her worst fault is never apologizing seriously), she denied it automatically saying that "there was no pee" on the toilet, without even going into the bathroom to check it out herself!
What's the point of saying to your friend that they can express their anger at you, when you are never ready to apologize for your own faults?
"It was water! Maybe you dripped water on the toilet!" Pinky continued to argue.
"Water?! I smelled the pee too, though!" I yelled.
"OK, OK. Fine. Let's just say that there was pee. Can you just lower your voice? You are going to wake up the AirBnb owner and we will get a bad review." Pinky was as unreasonable as ever.
However, Pinky was surprisingly calm in her voice, in contrast to my uncontrolled angry face. I wondered if every time she saw me mad, she felt calmer inside. Strange thought.
"I can yell all I want!" I retorted. "This house is so big that the landlord can't hear us from far. Also, if we get a bad review, it will be on my AirBnb account, not yours!"
I imagine selfish Pinky only said what she said because she owns an AirBnb back home in Toronto, and she is always worried about her guests leaving bad reviews on her page. (Go figure.) That's because AirBnb hosts have the right to post up a bad review about their guests and it can reflect badly on them when they try to book future trips.
So she shut up and let me yell some more.
Some Friends Are Terribly Negative.
The Great Escape From A Doomed Friendship.
I went off about how I was her only real friend, because even Dixon who went to the hospital is not her friend anymore. (Ouch.) And I told her that she needs to appreciate her friends while they are still there. Because I am the only one who saw all her faults yet still gave her so many chances.
I do admit the fact that I go totally out of control when I am very triggered. I am not completely guilt-free here, because I shouldn't have raised my voice. I failed to keep calm.
But one thing is for certain. I never accused Pinky of being a horrible person. I always tried to be humble and gave her the benefit of the doubt. Even still, she kept on doubting me.
"You know what, Pinky? Let's just both go to sleep and pretend nothing happened. Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be a brand new day."
After texting my best friend Glenda* to rant about this situation, I told myself to give another shot at trying to keep my cool. I went to bed and fumed.
But you know what? I couldn't handle another day with #SorryNotSorry Pinky.
Our original plan had been to take the Greyhound bus from Orlando to Miami together the very next day (at 9:30am). As I quietly considered whether I should give Pinky another chance, I took out my phone and quickly booked another solo bus ticket for 6am.
This was all done online in secret, without Pinky realizing it. She was typing furiously on her computer, probably ranting about me to another "friend", while I was booking my escape. She was too busy to notice that I had pulled out my credit card and was going online on my phone.
At 2:34am, I angrily set my alarm for 4:40am and lay down to sleep. The next morning (more like two hours later), I woke up at the set time and saw that Pinky was sound asleep. Good.
Quietly in the dark, I made sure that my luggage was packed up and intact. Placing the AirBnb keys on the kitchen table, I also remembered to leave my pink folder on the bed.
The pink folder contained instructions for Pinky to catch the 9:30am train, with everything she needed to check-in to the Miami hotel we had originally booked together.
See? I am not that ruthless.
Dramatic exit out the gate, and onwards to the Greyhound station. I glanced at my phone, gladly seeing a confirmation email from the cheap oceanside hostel I had booked only two hours ago.
I did it. Could hardly believe it.
I was going rogue.
Leaving A Toxic Friendship Is Liberating.
Leaving Wasn't Easy, But It Was Worth It.
I had never done anything like this before. I felt like I was on Mission Impossible as I rolled out the main gate of the housing community. My heart was pumping with anxiety. I could even hear the Mission Impossible theme song playing in my head while I walked out into the humid night air.
Could this really work? What if on the flight back home she sees me again? No worry. I was doing the right thing. Let's hurry before Pinky wakes up!
The 6am solo Greyhound trip was wonderful. I must say that the Miami heat didn't really bother me, and neither did my breakup with Pinky. I thoroughly enjoyed traveling alone, laying at the beach alone while sipping a drink alone.
I saw people dancing. I saw people laughing. I laughed too.
I had done something so liberating that I felt like I was dreaming. Never in my life had I stood up for my own mental well-being like I did just now. I prioritized my own mental health needs above an inconsiderate person's selfish wants.
I did it. I finally did it! I was happy!
Lesson learned, three times is not the charm. You can forgive, but if they are not regretful of their mistake, don't even waste time trying to give them a second chance. You are not Jesus.
We all need boundaries to safeguard our mental health. People who suck up your energy and don't even appreciate you, let alone give you any encouragement, are not worth spending time on. Those people are not your friends, they are literally suckers.
People who are nasty are just plain nasty. They don't need you to make an excuse for them, saying that they had a bad childhood. They need to change themselves and you cannot do it for them.
Being slightly submissive in order to compromise on a decision together is one thing. Being subverted and letting triggersome people manipulate you is a totally different story.
I wouldn't say she abused me, but I would say she used me. The way she acted showed me once-and-for-all that I didn't need her in my life. I could waste my time dreaming of the good ole' days when Pinky was friendlier, but that Pinky ain't coming back. And never will sweet doormat Skylar.
Say "No" to Bad Friends!
Lesson Learned: Leave Before It's Too Late.
Wondering if I saw her on the plane trip back? I did. But I had changed my plane seat last minute so that I could sit further back in the plane, far away from Pinky. It was at no extra cost to me but at the same time, it was so worth it. Originally she would have been sitting right next to me. Nope. Uh-uh!
I did see her try to go to the bathroom located behind my plane seat. But I had bought a new self-help book at the airport Duty-Free store coincidentally called Triggers (written by Marshall Goldsmith) and I used it to cover my face while she passed by.
So she never saw me on the plane, and I hope she never sees me again either. (By the way, she probably left her urine on the plane toilet seat.)
I am glad Pinky triggered me. In a way, I am thankful. Because it showed me in the end that I was worth so much more than how she treated me. She was the catalyst to make me pick up that book about triggers and learn something about how to adjust myself next time and be a better, calmer person in the future.
My story may be dramatic, but take this as a life lesson: Don't let people take advantage of your kindness. And don't sell yourself short by trying to change your so-called friend's rude behavior. You are not the Savior of the world, nor are you supposed to try to be.
I was deeply hurt by Pinky. I didn't realize how hurt I was until I found myself sleepless when I got back home to Toronto and crying my eyes out listening to the classical song Le Cygne (The Swan) playing over and over. This song was so sweet yet so sad.
Pinky is no longer in my life. I can be free now to teach people a valuable life lesson: So-called "friends" who trigger you constantly are not worth living for. Perhaps consider burying yourself in Marshall Goldsmith's Triggers book, instead of wasting your time donating your blood, sweat and tears to your life-draining leech friends.
Oh and speaking of eye contact? I'll wish upon a shooting star that Pinky will get herself some Disney 3D glasses and start to see the world with a better perspective.
Take it from me, please. Next time you go on a trip, don't just pack your bags. Pack your emotional intelligence. That way, you will come back with the same friends you left with.
*Names have been changed in order to maintain confidentiality.
Telltale Signs of a Toxic Friendship.
Bad Friendship Poll.
What Is YOUR Worst Friend Like?
© 2017 Skylar Wong